10 years of wingolog

Greetings, friends!

This piece is even more navel-gazing than most, so if that's not your bag, surf on, dear surfer, surf on.

Tomorrow ten years ago I wrote:

What up ya'll. I've been looking at advogato recently, and seeing my co-hackers thomasvs, Uraeus, and hadess posting here all the time made me jealous, so here I am too.

summertime... and the living is easy.

Ten years! There are few things that I have done consistently for ten years, but typing at this end of the intertube appears to be one of them.

Although there is some juice to squeeze out of the history of this thing, I don't think it's interesting enough. So instead in the rest of this essay I'll just say whatever comes to my mind.

on identity

As you might have gathered, I don't like defining myself. I prefer to let what I do give you enough material so that you can conclude what you want. But in the absence of auto-definition, over time I feel that you are defining me.

Let me be concrete. You are mostly technical people, probably computer programmers. You respect what I write to some degree, and that is very gratifying. But let's say I start writing more about politics and social justice. For me it was much easier to write something political five or ten years ago than it is now. Now, I have to think about my readers, and say something that is both well-reasoned and not offensive, because I have the kind of audience for whom technically correct is the best kind of correct.

I don't know what I think about this. Politically I self-identify as an anarchist. (It's both more and less crazy than it sounds.) Politics are more important than what I do in code, but I'm more hesitant to write about such things, because it's not always the case that I can express it adequately. This may be an advantage to us all, but it is stifling as well.

I told you it was going to be navel-gazing ;-)

on you

Here I am, dropping the second-person plural like it's nothing. Au contraire! I do enjoy writing for an audience. Thank you all for reading: those who started with me at Advogato, those more recent subscribers, and those that just click through occasionally.

Thanks especially to people on Planet GNOME for putting up with me over these last few years. The things I do now are only tangentially related to GNOME, but it has been a great help to my writing to know that there were thousands of people reading. If you ever find it too off-topic, file a bug asking the PGO maintainers to restrict the feed to a particular tag or three.

Thanks also to my commenters. I have learned lots from yall. I especially appreciate the pleasant tone that you have. I apologize for not responding to all of the many good points that you make; sometimes the answer is too long, sometimes I have no excuse. In any case, I put my effort into the articles more than the comment threads. At least that way we mostly avoid back-and-forths; there are better media for that.

For the record, although I don't currently moderate comments, I do delete offensive or spammy comments whenever they appear. This has worked well for me.

on advice

I've done OK with this electrorag. If you write a blog, and aspire to such modest success, I have only this advice: write about interesting things. Write conversationally, and succinctly if possible. Write socially, addressing a community of readers. That's all!

on macro, on micro

This is just as good a time as any to note that I opened a Twitter account recently. It goes completely against my instincts. My blog is self-hosted. I wrote the software that runs the blog. I wrote the compiler that compiles the software that runs the blog, and the compiler is self-hosted!

I feel I have to justify myself here. In the end it is pretty simple: I need fresh chatter, without having an inbox. I feel like my news sources are an echo chamber, and I need to break out of it somehow. Twitter seems appropriate for grabbing links and zeitgeist. RSS seems too much like an inbox. I'll end up trying to self-host and do the identi.ca dance at some point, but for now, Twitter it is. If following is your game, @andywingo is my name.

I still have no idea what to type at that ridiculous 140-character box. When it comes to blogging, I don't know how to do micro :)


I have no idea what the future holds. Maybe it's a bunch of nerdy compiler articles. Maybe it's cat pictures. We'll see. Thanks for accompanying me this far!

summertime... and the living is easy.

10 responses

  1. Peter Zotov says:

    Hey thank you! I've enjoyed reading about compilers, especially the articles on V8 internals. This has inspired me to do some research, through I'm not sure if anything will come out of it: http://whitequark.org/blog/2011/12/21/statically-compiled-ruby/

  2. Philip Withnall says:

    Although I haven’t been reading for the last 10 years, the few years’ worth of posts I have read have been interesting and informative.

    Here’s to the next 10 years!

  3. Julian Graham says:

    Hey Andy! Here's to another 10 years. For what it's worth, you can configure identi.ca to cross-post to Twitter. (That's what I do.)

  4. John Cowan says:

    I would be glad to read more political (really political/philosophical) articles here.

  5. Manuel Simoni says:

    Thanks for blogging, and keep up the good stuff! I've learnt many interesting and useful things here (especially on delimited control). Cheers, Manuel.

  6. Luis says:

    Like John, I'd be happy to read more politics, Andy. But then again I'm weird. ;)

    [Also, your captcha won't accept "pi" as a number. ;)

  7. Alexandre Abreu says:

    Thanks for your efforts! It still is (and by far) my favorite place on the web to immerse myself into fascinating stuff. Keep it up!

  8. Taryn Fox says:

    I'm a big fan of the kind of progressive anarchy that means the absence of coercion, as opposed to the absence of any checks on nongovernmental power monopolies. >.>b

  9. Ramakrishnan Muthukrishnan says:

    Keep blogging. I have been a big fan of your work and this blog. I hope and wish that chatter on twitter does not deter you from more blogging. :)

  10. gasche says:

    I have discovered your blog maybe one year ago, and have been quite happy with the content so far. I'm interested in programming languages and implementation, and this blog is one of the most consistently relevant and good-quality I know of. I most specifically like your open-minded approach and the way you present knowledge transfer from older research to current implementations, or between different languages. We need more of that.

    Contrarily to some commentators above, I don't think I care too much about your politic opinions. Or rather, I would care if you wrote about it, but secretly I would know that it is a waste of time for me to read it in this form (because certainly people, possibly yourself, have written about it in a more structured and concise form somewhere, and as it's not my main interest topic it is not worth keeping "on the bleeding edge" as a blog allows). If you started writing this more often, I may try to restrict myself to certain tags. Or maybe you could start a separate blog focused on politics, for the people that are interested?

    For mostly the same time investment reasons, I don't read twitter: the signal/noise ratio is just too low. Chat all you like, but I hope you won't use it as an excuse to write less blog posts, or post some things only as twitter-form content. Maybe you could consider doing a "best of twitter" once in a while, where you condense in one special post the most time-lasting and interesting of your little tweets, that would not individually have been enough for a full post (eg. your links on visualizing galois fields).

    Anyway, keep up with the good work!

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